Proposed 2023-24 VA Changes – What Are They and What Do They Mean For You?

Proposed 2024-24 VA Changes - What Are They and What Do They Mean For You

The Consumer Price Index Data released in July 2023 shows that inflation in the United States is creeping up inexorably. This report, the adjustment of the Cost-Of-Living (COLA) index, as well as the long-debated need to address such urgent matters as Veteran suicide, Veteran homelessness, and other issues, lead to the fact that the VA disability rates are estimated to increase by an average 3%.

And while the official numbers will be released in October 2023, we can already take a glimpse at the expected changes and their justifications to help you understand how the upcoming changes in the VA disability rates may affect you and what you can do today to ensure receiving maximum in the VA benefits after the changes are implied.

The 2024 VA budgeting is expected to raise the monthly tax-free compensations for entitled Veterans. According to the latest COLA Index fluctuations, the rise in payments will increase by an average of 2.8%–3.1%.

The increase as well as the final calculation of the updated payments will depend on such factors as the initial VA disability rate, the number of disabilities, as well as the existence of dependents, their age, and their status.


2024 VA Benefits Increase – Overview

The president’s budget for fiscal year 2024 was made public by the Biden-Harris administration at the beginning of March 2024. According to this document, the new budget provides for substantial resources to help the VA adequately reward the Veterans for their honourable service as well as the Veterans` families, survivors, and caregivers.

What has been called the largest budget proposal in US history, it requests over $321 billion for the VA, which increases the previous year`s budget level by over 5%. The project includes the 2024 mandatory funding request of over $182 billion and a discretionary request of over $142 billion.

Nearly 6.7 million Veterans and their survivors will receive disability compensation payments totaling $165.6 billion and nearly 263,000 Veterans and their survivors will receive pension payments totaling $3.4 billion thanks to mandatory funding and additional carryover funding included in the 2024 VA budgeting project.

Now let’s take a closer look at the new 2024 VA budget to see how the upcoming increase can affect some specific groups of Veterans and their benefits.

    • More VA benefits for women’s health
      With women making up over 30% of the increase in Veterans served over the past five years, more women than ever before are choosing VA for their healthcare. The new VA budget will help women Veterans receive complete specialty medical and surgical services, with $1 billion going specifically toward women’s healthcare.

      Enhancing care coordination for preventive care, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, is emphasized as a priority for the 2024 VA budgeting. The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supported Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act is being put into effect as well. Also, by offering Toxic Exposure Screenings to enrolled female Veterans, the VA is carrying out the PACT BiB-14 Budget in Brief Act.

    • Expanded benefits for the toxic-exposed Veterans
      The budget follows the PACT Act’s (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022) explicit instructions, which state that any costs above the level for FY 2021 for providing Veterans with care or benefits related to exposure to environmental hazards should be requested as mandatory Toxic Exposures Fund (TEF) funding.
      The budget requests funds from the TEF to make sure there is enough money for these expenses without compromising other aspects of Veteran care and services.

      The PACT Act affects the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) enrollment by increasing eligibility for a subset of Veterans and by introducing or raising service-connected ratings for a subset of Veterans. It raises the priority level for enrollment for which the Veteran is eligible. 

      The priority level upgrade is anticipated to increase a Veteran’s long-term reliance on the VHA for health care if they are already enrolled. If they are not, the change is anticipated to increase the Veteran’s likelihood of enrolling. The Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund is expected to receive $20.3 billion in 2024 ($15.3 billion more than in 2023) for health care.

      Increase funding for Veteran homelessness

    • The number of homeless Veterans has dropped by 11% since 2020 since the VA permanently housed more than 40,000 people in 2022. Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are expected to receive permanent housing, access to healthcare, and other supportive services due to a $3.1 billion investment in the 2024 VA budget.

      As a result of a growing need and area of focus for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) program, the 2024 budget includes help with the design and development of expanded services for elderly and disabled Veterans.

    • Increase for Veteran mental health and preventing suicide
      VA is making suicide prevention a top clinical priority in 2024 and is announcing a comprehensive public health strategy. Funding for mental health, including suicide prevention, is $16.6 billion in 2024, up from $15.0 billion in 2023.

      The budget includes a new $10 million program to support suicide prevention efforts under the authority of section 303 of the Strong Veterans Act of 2022. This funding comes in addition to an estimated $2.5 billion in suicide-specific medical treatment. The budget also includes $559 million for outreach programs that prevent suicide, on top of an estimated $2.5 billion in such programs.

    • Updating and automating claim processing for Veterans
      Veterans Benefits Administration`s (VBA) General Operating Expenses account will receive $3.9 billion in discretionary funding. This is a $36 million (+0.9%) increase over the 2023 level.

      To guarantee that Veterans and their families have access to exceptional burial and memorial benefits the budget for the National Cemetry Administration (NCA) receives $480 million, an $50 million (11.6%) increase over the 2023 level. 

      The budget also includes $287 million (an increase of $2 million (+0.7%) from 2023) to support 1,465 Full-time Equivalency (FTEs) and overtime appeals processing. It will help Veterans receive the benefits they deserve faster and easier.

Getting the Maximum VA Disability Benefits in 2024

To ensure that you receive the full scope of VA benefits you rightfully deserve in 2024 and beyond it is vital to keep track of the latest updates in the procedures and follow all the changes that may affect your VA disability rate and monthly compensation.

Each Veteran’s situation is unique, and the process of applying for VA disability benefits can vary based on your individual circumstances. Contact our team of Veteran Specialists to clarify all the concerns regarding the latest 2024 VA changes!

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